To make matters worse for these Americans, the woman who is said to have been the “leader” of their group – 40-year old Laura Silsby of Meridian (suburban Boise), Idaho, apparently has legal troubles in her hometown. According to a detailed report that appeared in the Idaho Statesman newspaper last week, Ms. Silsby is a business owner who has been the subject of eight civil lawsuits and fourteen unpaid wage claims. Since 1997, she has been the subject of nine traffic citations, including four for failing to provide insurance on her vehicle and/or failure to register her vehicle. A jury trial involving one of Ms. Silsby’s lawsuits is scheduled to get underway in an Idaho District Court later this month.
So a small group of Americans travel with their church to an impoverished country to “help” suffering children, and end-up facing criminal charges. And their problems may be entirely of their own making. Yet, they are nonetheless Americans, and they are deserving of their government’s assistance.
As such, the reality that these ten people were charged in a Haitian court last Thursday with absolutely no legal representation present with them, should be disturbing to all Americans. Employees of American Embassy’s abroad are usually quick to assure Americans visiting other countries that, should any trouble arise for them on foreign soil, their government is ready to intervene on their behalf. And now that this incident has risen to the level of the U.S. Department of State, it is reasonable to think that the Obama Administration could and should arrange for the missionaries’ safe return home to the U.S., even if the missionaries must return to Haiti at a later date for a court trial.
But the Obama Administration has chosen to remain “hands-off” with these American Baptists. “This will be a judgment based by the Haitian government on Haitian law,” State Department Spokesperson P.J. Crowley told USA Today. “If Haiti decides to consult with the United States in terms of other legal avenues, obviously, there are legal procedures for us to do that…”
Our President has commanded over 17,000 military personnel into Haiti. He has also pledged over $400 million of our money in “relief aid.” He has mobilized two of our former Presidents to raise money for Haitian relief efforts, and earlier last year dispatched former President Clinton to the hostile nation of North Korea to secure the release of Americans detained there.
Yet the Obama Administration must remain “hands off” with respect to 10 American missionaries who are accused by the Haitian government of mis-behaving. To do otherwise, apparently would be to “meddle” in procedures that are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Haitian government.
We have now found something that President Obama apparently believes he cannot do. But why does he believe this way?
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.